Cablegate: Tunisia: S/Gwi Project Proposal for Women's Business


DE RUEHTU #0122/01 0491140
O 181140Z FEB 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 09 STATE 132094

1. Summary: The Chambre Nationale des Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises
(CNFCE) proposes to launch an innovative program that aims to
accelerate women's socio-economic progress in Tunisia by improving
opportunities for business development, promoting sustainable job
creation, and expanding economic opportunities through the creation
of a Women's Business Incubator Center in Tunis. The program will
target young female graduates and aspiring female entrepreneurs and
help them to transform business ideas into new start-ups, create
jobs, and develop profitable enterprises. End summary.

2. Problem Statement: Finding a job is a priority for female
university graduates in Tunisia. To respond to that need, the
Chambre Nationale des Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises (CNFCE) works to
help women graduates gain marketable skills and prepares them to
transform their ideas into business start-ups.

3. Project description: The CNFCE has a long history of working
with women entrepreneurs in Tunisia to provide training, networking,
information-sharing, and increased access to new markets. CNFCE
would like to take this work to the next level by creating what it
terms a "Women's Business Incubator Center" in Tunis, which would be
a "one-stop shop" for the needs of aspiring Tunisian women
entrepreneurs. The Incubation Center would provide its participants
with business development training, resources, infrastructure, and
consulting services to develop and grow their businesses through
partnerships with existing networks, including access to
business-to-business opportunities. The CNFCE has already
identified two potential local partners to support the development
of the Incubator Center. The National University will recruit
appropriate students to develop a Business Management Essentials
training program. The Technological Park of Borj Cedria would house
and manage the Center and provide technological know-how,
facilities, business connections, and media exposure.

4. Project Activities: This proposal will cover 18 months,
including program planning and start-up, opening the Incubator
Center, and mentoring the first cohort of graduates through the
first phase of business start-up.

Phase One: The first phase of this program will last six months and
will focus on identifying and convening potential program partners
in a public-private coalition to support the Center, identifying and
training a project manager, implementing a feasibility study, and
developing the strategic and financial plans for the Center. The
CNFCE will hire a project manager with experience in community
incubators and management in addition to support staff responsible
for designing methodology, training support staff, implementing the
feasibility study, and coordinating the program implementation with
the coalition partners.

Acceptance into the program will be through competition. The
partner university will call for business proposals with special
preference for recent graduates. The CNFCE and the university will
conduct an informational exchange exercise to help aspiring female
entrepreneurs identify their resources, attributes and aptitude for
the entrepreneurial process, evaluate their strengths and
weaknesses, set goals for what their business might accomplish in
three to five years, construct a preliminary strategy to achieve
their objective(s), and begin the next steps toward starting the
business. Through an internal evaluation, proposals will then be
selected and entered into a two-year incubation process in which the
small start-ups are offered services ranging from office space,
telecommunication to administrative support. Additionally young
entrepreneurs will receive start-up capital, mentorships, training
and marketing assistance.

Phase 2: The CNFCE and its partners will adapt business development
methodologies to develop an intensive training program for
participants to give guidance on business plan development,
marketing strategy, personal selling skills, and CEO training. A
Business Management Essentials training program will be developed
and implemented for the Incubator Center by the university.
Business Management Essentials is a practical, skills-based
education program designed to strengthen and sharpen the management
skills of business owners and professionals.

The Women's Incubator Center will also provide participants with a
mentor to assist with the "how to" aspects for the next steps in
business growth and career development. By leveraging the vast
expertise already existing in the CNFCE network, this program will
enable young entrepreneurs to engage in a sustainable,
skills-building mentoring program that improves business and
maintains a connection to the youth entrepreneurship movement by
providing them the opportunity to share and learn from the
experience of more experienced entrepreneurs.

Phase 3: The Women's Business Incubator Center will also help
client companies secure capital by managing an internal "seed fund"
and access to private sources in addition to conventional forms of

debt and equity financing, and help participants apply for loans.

The CNFCE estimates that participants will spend two years in the
Incubator Center before graduating. The program will set graduation
requirements by developing benchmarks such as company revenues or
staffing levels, rather than time in the program. Successful
completion of the program will increase the likelihood that a female
entrepreneur will stay in business over the long term.

The CNFCE views this proposal as a source of funds for developing a
pilot Women's Business Incubator Center, but once the program is
operational it will become self-sustaining. The CNFCE and its
advisory board will undertake the strategic and financial
development of this program with this goal in mind, and will explore
sustainability options such as fee-based services, client equity
shares, and private sector partnerships and financing.

5. Outcomes and Performance Measures
Goal: Improve entrepreneurial opportunities for women through
business development; accelerate sustainable job creation for women;
and expand economic opportunities for women by creating a women's
business incubator center in Tunisia.

Indicators: Number of businesses started by participants that are
generating profit; number of graduate firms still in business or
that have been merged or acquired; a 200 percent increase in the
number of people employed by participants; increased rate in
business revenue as a result of program participation.

Performance Measures: Baseline survey; final survey; quarterly
reports; and final report.

Objective 1: Provide young potential entrepreneurs the opportunity
to independently establish successful businesses through a series of
specialized capacity-building training courses and business

Indicators: Number of young female entrepreneurs participating in
program; number of new businesses started by participants; increased
entrepreneurial capacity of participants; number of participants
completing the Business Management Essentials program.

Performance Measures: Baseline survey; final survey; training
reports; quarterly reports; and final report; improvement in score
of capacity assessment.

Objective 2: Enable young entrepreneurs to engage in a sustainable
skills-building mentoring program that improves business and
maintains a connection to the youth entrepreneurship movement and
integrate them into both the CNFCE and Middle East/North Africa
Business Women's Network to develop partnerships with existing
networks and gain access to business-to-business opportunities.

Indicators: Number of mentors and mentees involved in on-going
mentoring relationships; rate of participants reporting an increase
in their professional capacity as a result of the mentoring program;
rate of participants that have established business-to-business


Performance Measures: Baseline survey; final survey; quarterly
reports; final report; and mentoring evaluations.

Objective 3: Create a business incubator center through a
public-private partnership coalition that provides its participants
with business development opportunities, resources, infrastructure,
and consulting services to start-up and grow their businesses.

Performance Indicators: Number of companies the incubator serves;
number of graduates since the Center's launch; and amount of debt
capital raised each year by client and graduate firms (bank loans,
loans from family and friends, revolving loan funds, or other loan

Performance Measures: Baseline survey; final survey; quarterly
reports; and final report.

Performance period: 18 months.

6. Budget

Total: $96,000 broken down as follows:

Phase 1: Six months, $8,000
Identifying and convening potential program partners; training a
project manager; implementing the feasibility study, and
developing the strategic and financial plans for the Center.

Phase 2: Ten months, $82,000
Develop an intensive training program for participants;
strengthen management skills of business owners and professionals
through internships; English classes in partnership with

Pearson/Financial Times; availability of a mentor to assist with
business growth and career development; secure capital by managing
an internal "seed fund" and access to private placements; assist
participants to apply for loans.

Phase 3: Two months, $6,000
Availability of a mentor to assist with business growth and career
developmnt; secure capital by managing an internal "seed fnd" and
access to private placements; assist paricipants to apply for

7. Description f Recipient

The Chambre Nationale des Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises (CNFCE), a
non-governmental and non-profit organization, was created in 1990 to
promote the economic and social role of women entrepreneurs in

CNFCE is composed of women entrepreneurs in different sectors of the
economy: industry, trade, handicrafts, and technology. CNFCE is the
Tunisian hub and a founding member of the Middle East/North Africa
Business Women's Network (BWN), one of the oldest businesswomen's
associations in the region. CNFCE is an established organization
with numerous existing partnerships and memberships in various
regional business networks. The organization has grown from its
original 20 founding members to over 500 current active members.
Part of their success hinges on an active event portfolio, with
activities ranging from monthly member breakfasts to participation
in regional forums and overseas study tours, and their continued
expansion throughout the country by building the capacity of their
regional chapters.

8. Monitoring

Embassy Tunis will monitor the grant. Reports will be submitted by
the grantee on a quarterly basis. A mid-term study of performance
and financial status will be conducted at the 9-month mark.


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